BEING VEGAN – Occupy This Book– Mickey Z-vegan on Activism
By Paul Graham
Las Vegas Informer
“What if I told you that I knew a way you could oppose unspeakable animal cruelty, stand up for exploited human workers, help address a human health holocaust, work to reduce the profits and control of the 1%, surrender the hierarchical privilege of species, and do your part to defend the ecosystem before it’s too late? What if I added that this choice also addresses deforestation, topsoil depletion, overfishing, water pollution, rapid species extinction, the proliferation of GMO’s in our food supply, and much more.? What if I then informed you that you could do all this 24 hours a day and still have plenty of time for many other forms of protest and dissent? As an activist–a revolutionary,even–I’d imagine you’d be practically drooling. Right? Unfortunately, for way too many of you, the only thing you you drool for is…(wait for it) bacon. You know who you are. You think pizza is dreamy and vegans are annoying and you diligently delude yourself with tall tales of being too busy helping humans to care about animals. In other words, in your eyes: Another world is possible…except at mealtime. Angela Davis, someone who knows a little about challenging privilege, has declared that being vegan is ‘part of a revolutionary perspective–how we not only discover more compassionate relations with human beings, but how we develop compassionate relations with other creatures with whom we share this planet.” – An excerpt from Occupy This Book, by Mickey Z-vegan
It has been a great privilege over this past year and a half to be able to work with Sullivan St. Press to help tell the story of a great shift that happened in my own life in becoming vegan seven years ago and how the city and culture of Las Vegas has been changing to embrace more cruelty-free living and eating options. My book, Eating Vegan in Vegas: If It Can Happen Here, It Can Happen Anywhere, is more than just a guidebook to where to eat as a vegan here in Las Vegas, but more importantly, why we should be living and eating more consciously for ethical, health, environmental, and spiritual reasons. It speaks of change in this world and how being vegan is an answer to so many of the challenges that we now face in this world. We are living in such a critical time in human history and we have the opportunity to see changes take place in this generation unlike any that we have seen before. We need to see these changes take place for the sake of the survival of this planet and every living creature upon it.
Sullivan St. Press continues to be a change agent in the literary and publishing world and has expanded its offerings recently by publishing Occupy This Book by NYC activist Mickey Z-vegan. According to his bio in the book, Mickey Z-vegan was born and raised in Astoria, Queens and is probably the only person on the planet to have appeared in a book with Norm Chomsky and a karate flick with Billy Blanks. Armed with with a high school diploma, Mickey is the author of 12 books and has spoken and lectured in venues ranging from MIT to ABC No Rio, from Yale University to Occupy Free University. Howard Zinn called him “provocative and bold.” You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress using the Mickey Z-vegan handle. This is the beginning of an interview that I had with Mickey Z-vegan on being vegan and activism that will conclude in next week’s column.
PG: What were some of the influences that started you on this lifestyle of veganism and activism?
Mickey: I would say there were two parallel factors that led me onto the path of veganism and animal liberation. To begin with, I was raised within a family of traditional animal lovers. I say “traditional” because, like so many others, we rescued strays and shared our home with many cats, yet we still ate animal products. That bigger connection happened later for me…as I became more radicalized in my thinking. As someone who was always guided by an inner sense of antiauthority rebellion, I opted for self-education and this journey inevitably introduced by to a wide range of subversive thinkers. Once I saw that I could combine my radical worldview with my love for animals into a 24/7 revolutionary lifestyle, there was no turning back.
PG: How long have you been involved in activism and how has becoming vegan contributed to your worldview and lifestyle?
Mickey: As you know, activism takes many forms and often, one can be engaged in it without knowing. For example, I always felt a strong anti-authority ethos and lived it as often as possible. So, in a way, I’ve always been an activist. More specifically, I took part in an anti-war “rally” when I was in grade school and remember organizing a petition at age 11 to get more Marx Brothers movies shown on TV! As I became more aware, all this translated into more sustained activism and my transition to veganism which expanded my worldview to this: Every minute of every day, we must do our best to challenge and reject classism, sexism, racism, homophobia, patriarchy, ageism, ableism, transphobia, body-shaming, speciesism, and all other forms of hierarchical privilege.
PG: How would you describe the vegan community where you live right now in NYC?
Mickey: It’s growing and mixed. NYC is very vegan-friendly, so it’s a relatively easy choice here. For me, the important thing is to reach the local vegans and get them involved in activism–to see veganism as a radical lifestyle choice. I just finished up a busy weekend of animal liberation activism here–dolphin hunt, circus, fur industry. The response and turnout were great!
The conclusion of this interview can be seen in next Sunday’s Being Vegan column. To order a copy of Mickey Z-vegan’s book, Occupy This Book, go to www.sullivanstpress.com/shop/ebooks/occupy-this-book/.
Paul Graham was born and raised in Northern California and has lived in Las Vegas since 2004. He is a top wedding officiate, a green Realtor and writer. He has a daily vegan food blog www.eatingveganinvegas.tumblr.com which is 365 days and 365 vegan meals in Las Vegas. He can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/EatingVeganinVegas.
Paul’s e-book, “Eating Vegan in Vegas: If It Can Happen Here, It Can Happen Anywhere” is now available at www.sullivanstpress.com/shop/ebooks/eating-vegan-in-vegas/.